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MMD > Archives > November 2001 > 2001.11.21 > 09Prev  Next

Player Piano Repair Rates
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  It seems pretty obvious to me that if Tech A can do the same
job in half the time as Tech B, and they both charge the same labor
rate, you'd be foolish to hire Tech B a second time.

Fortunately, there are no "Rate Books" concerning the servicing and/or
repair of player pianos.  Just today I had the opportunity to charge
"by-the-job" or "by-the-hour".  I put it to the customer this way:

  "I charge $75.00 to do this job when I write up an evaluation.
  However, if I can finish the job in less time than it normally takes,
  I'll only charge you for the time.  If it takes longer, that's my

No other approach could be more fair.  As it turned out, that $75.00
job only cost the customer $40.00 because they trusted me to do what
was fair.  If I was resigned to go by "The Rate Book", I'd have more
money in my pocket, but I'd have a problem sleeping at night because
I'd know I took more money than the job warranted.

Here's the point: Every experienced technician has a handle on the
amount of time it normally takes to job a specific job, and a reputable
technician is not hesitant to tell the customer what to expect (when
given certain specifics).  The problem is that most people don't even
know when their instrument isn't performing well.  Once you show them
the difference between 'good' and 'bad', it's their choice, and the
burden of deciding what to do and what not to do is no longer on the
technician, except to rectify the problem, if that's what's desired by
the customer.

Here's a question:  'How many piano owners think that "tuning a piano"
means attending to every problem within the instrument?'

In my experience, more than 50% of all piano owners don't even realize
that the piano is a machine and, like every machine, that the mechanism
must be adjusted periodically to compensate for the normal wear that
occurs as a result of using the device.

So, before I get too far off the track here, I want to state that it is
the responsibility of the owner to ask a prospective technician about
his/her normal charges for various services if they (the customer) are
concerned about the bottom line cost.  If the customer doesn't know
what questions to ask, maybe it's time they got educated!!

No offense intended, but I don't feel sorry for the person who gets
'beat' because they are too lazy to do some investigating.  When you
hire a plumber, do you call around and find out what it costs to change
a faucet washer, or do you just call the guy who has the biggest
advertisement in the Yellow Pages?

Knowledge is power -- and it can save you big bucks!


John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Wed 21 Nov 2001, 12:00:15 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Piano, Player, Rates, Repair

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